Published: September 22, 2020
By Greg Smith
WOODBURY, CONN. – “I never liked being called the best kept secret,” said antiques dealer Gary Sergeant, who in August expanded his visibility by moving G. Sergeant Antiques into a Main Street storefront in Woodbury, the antiques capital of Connecticut.
Now located at 289 Main Street South in the former home of Tucker Frey Antiques, Sergeant’s new 1,200-square-foot gallery stands out with an attractively styled bay window at a lighted intersection across the street from St Paul’s Episcopal Church.
Even in the uncertain times of the novel coronavirus, Sergeant is making strides and sales with his distinct offerings of English, American and Continental furniture framed with fine works of art by American and European masters.
Though the space is smaller than his former gallery, Sergeant’s presentation is in line with the discerning sight of his clients. “We’re going to have a gallery look, as opposed to a chock-a-block antiques shop,” he said. “This way people can focus as they look at each object.” The space will feature a rotating inventory of works that the dealer sources from around the world.
Sergeant is well known for English furniture and accessories, which he has been selling for over 48 years.
Visitors are greeted to the gallery by a walnut English highboy from the early Eighteenth Century. The movement on the grain is softened by the old finish and focused by the inlaid herringbone borders on the drawers. Just inside, buyers find other period tables, cabinets, an assortment of chairs and gilt mirrors – the latter a favored specialty of the dealer.
“I love them,” he said, motioning towards a George III giltwood mirror with a basket carved finial, carved ho-ho birds, floral sprays and other organic designs.
On the back wall of the gallery is a fine lacquered cabinet on cabriole frame in the Asian style. “This was entirely made in Europe,” Sergeant said, noting that instead of incurring the large costs of building furniture and then shipping it to China to be painted, European makers began imitating the Asian lacquerwork style on their own pieces. It dates to 1730 and features engraved silver hardware.
“I deal in pieces of patina and statement,” Sergeant said. “Pieces that when you walk into a room, they hold your attention.”
Sitting above many of these glowing furniture pieces are works from art from noted artists, among them Andrew Wyeth, Rockwell Kent and Thomas Marshall. The latter’s well-executed “Hudson River Near Hastings” painting received prominent placement and was executed in 1872, only two years before the artist died at age 24.
But not everything is a high-priced masterwork, the dealer points out. “Most everything here is pre-1840, before the Industrial Revolution,” he said. “But we’ll also have things that are favorable to the contemporary market, including exotic woods and country painted pieces.”
On doing business in the pandemic era, Sergeant’s moves relate that the dealer has not skipped a beat. “Our regular customers make a point to come see the gallery, though most are comfortable discussing works through pictures.”
Halfway through the tour, Sergeant’s phone started buzzing and he excused himself.
A large mahogany Georgian library bookcase attributed to Gillows of London and Lancaster, circa 1770, sat on the longest wall of the space and reflected the light off its glossy finish. The top drawer concealed a breakfront desk gallery and the corners were finely inlaid with rosettes and leaf and vine designs.
Sergeant came back after five minutes with news that it had sold to the caller, a collector who came to pick up a piece earlier in the week, one they had originally purchased back in February. Once inside the door, they fell in love anew.
The dealer finds that collector interest in quality never wanes and that clients are always interested in learning about and adding the right piece to a room.
Sergeant’s new gallery space is a secret no more as it steps into full view to all who travel Woodbury’s Main Street on Connecticut’s Antiques Trail.
For more information, 203-266-4177 or www.gsergeant.com.
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